The U.S. Supreme Court has granted review of PennEast Pipeline's appeal against an earlier ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit that PennEast's developers could not use eminent domain to gain access to New Jersey state-owned land to build the pipeline.
In a brief filed last March, EEIA urged the highest Court to review the 3rd Circuit's ruling, stating that if it were allowed to stand, it would empower a state to veto any interstate natural gas pipeline project by refusing the developer's access to lands in which the state had ownership or an easement, even if the project has been approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). EEIA argued that if allowed to stand, the 3rd Circuit's ruling would be "profoundly disruptive" to energy infrastructure development.
The 3rd Circuit had ruled that the principle of "sovereign immunity" prevented a private entity such as a pipeline operator to exercise legal authority to invoke eminent domain over a state. EEIA argued in its brief that the pipeline operator was exercising that authority on behalf of the federal government, granted through FERC's issuance of a certificate.
We are very pleased with the Supreme Court's decision to review this critical case. It is scheduled to be argued before the Court in April, with a decision expected by June of this year.